So in reality, how I got involved in hypnosis is when I was a young kid I was very fucked up. I had every kind of problem that you could imagine. I spent years going through child therapy and family therapy from about the age of 9 to about the age of 17 or 19. So a big long hole right there. I didn't get along with my parents, who had a very interesting relationship. I would get bullied at school. I had no friends. I was obese. Couldn't get a girlfriend. Had asthma, nearly died of whooping cough as a youngster. Had ADD. I was very depressed, very anxious. I was anxious before anxiety was a thing.
Basically, I pretty much had every single problem that you can imagine out there, other than I was not sexually abused or beat up by my parents. Other than that, I pretty much had every kind of problem that you can imagine. And I don't say that to have sympathy from you or a hard luck story, because everyone has hard lives. It just gives you an indication of perhaps how I got into this.
So I'd been involved in child therapy and really nothing worked. I went to a children's home when I was 16 and that was the greatest year of my life there, being around other youngsters, realizing that I was not the only person in the whole wide world who was a complete fuck-up. And I'd gone through all these forms of therapy and nothing, quite frankly, helped me. I was suicidal, I actually tried to kill myself when I was 16 by taking a bunch of paracetamol and my dad's heart medication, along with another bunch of medication, another bunch of tablets I found in the medicine cabinet at home.
And if I'm honest about it, I don't know if I really wanted to die when I was 16, but I certainly wanted some help. I was certainly fucked-up and nothing was working. Just everything was horrible and tough for me, to be quite honest with you, for whatever reason. And so I think it's probably more of a cry for help the first time I tried to commit suicide, but I was surely in a dark place. And I remember that I got taken to the hospital and they leave me alone in this room after a while when they realized I wasn't gonna die. And they're looking for a bed to put me in.
And I just remember actually before that my dad come home, and this is not saying my dad is a bad man or anything like this, it was just his gut visceral reaction when he came home. He saw the tablets, he'd come home with my mom and they'd picked my little sister up from school. And I told him what I did, and his response to me was, "Why couldn't you do this at night? Why couldn't you do this when everyone was asleep? Or why couldn't you go down to the railway tracks and basically jump in front of a train?" So if I was looking for any sympathy I certainly didn't get any at that time. So that only made matters that much worse.
So that happened kind of in 1995 when I was about 16. And before I got put in a children's home six months later, I ordered a audio recording. It was an ad in the newspaper, "News of the World", it's now defunct. It's in the United Kingdom. And it was for an audio cassette, it was before mp3's and cd's were not even hugely big back then, it was still in the time where we got audio cassettes, they were the thing. And this audio cassette was called "Supreme Self-Confidence". And it's by a chap called Paul McKenna.
If you know anything about hypnosis you have probably heard of this guy. He had a long-running, at least five years, TV show on prime-time network TV in England every Monday night, I think at 7:00 or 8:00, in the '90s. And it was the kind of show where it's kind of almost like a stage show that they put on TV every week where he's getting people to do silly things. But because it was TV, and it was happening on TV, I totally believed it was real and it would work. Paul McKenna, very successful hypnotist trainer and author, and author, actually the number one, I believe, published author in England.
So I got that audio cassette and it took about 21 days or 28 days to arrive. And I had to get my sister to write me out a check because I was too young and I didn't have a check to get this audio cassette. So I waited eagerly for it to come, like 21 days, 21, 28 days, eagerly awaiting for it to come, because I knew this tape would change my life. And I knew it because I watched it on TV. And like, well if he can make someone sing like Madonna or dance like Michael Jackson, or do the moonwalk, he can give me some supreme self-confidence.
Tape comes, the tape is 22 minutes side A, 22 minutes side B. The first side is explaining what hypnosis is and what it isn't. And the second side of the tape is the actual hypnotic part of the tape, I guess. So I listened to it religiously every day and I had total belief, total expectation this would work, because it had to work, didn't it, because this guy was on TV. And whatever we see on TV must be real. Remember, this is way before the internet and anything like that. And quite frankly, that stupid generic £10, $20, tape that I did pay my sister back with my Saturday job, it changed my fucking life. It made me have self-confidence and it more formed me than basically 10 years of therapy and going through the wringer.
And it started to change things for me, in a very, very positive way. And I'm like, well there's something to this. There's something to this. And I remember, when I left this children's home, I had gone to America a couple years later as part of a summer camp, and I'd always wanted to go to America as a little boy, but my parents would never take me away. I think they took me away when I was two, and they told me. One time on an aeroplane and I had cried for two weeks when they took me to Italy, and they never took me away after that. So, and I had no recollection of that. So the first time I got on a plane was when I was 17, 18, and it was to go to New York. And I'd always wanted to go to New York. I grew up on a diet of American wrestling, I still do, and '80s vigilante shows as they like to call them, like "The A-Team" and "Knight Rider" and "Magnum" and my personal favorite, "The Equalizer". And I just loved that American culture, always did, still do.
And so I ended up going to New York, working on the summer camp for fat kids, quite frankly. And long story short, I ended up getting fired, because the rebel in me came out and these kids would beg me for candy. I let them buy some candy, and I was awoken unceremoniously one night, about 12:00 midnight, when my whole dorm had been evacuated and there was three men standing over my bed. Remember, I'm 17, 18, first time out of the country, and they're like, "Come with us." And they took me into an office and...no, that didn't happen. But they took me into an office and they basically unceremoniously fired me from a job I wasn't getting paid for anyways. And they basically said, "If you put up a stink, you put up a fight at all, we'll call the NYPD and we'll have you taken out of here in a squad car for feeding kids candy."
So I ended up in New York City. They withheld my visa, my passport, the company that had placed me for this famous summer camp in the Catskills in New York. So I ended up having to live in New York City Times Square for about 6 weeks as a 17-year old. I'd run out of money, and there was no way for me to get home because the visa situation. So I'm completely out of my element and I ran out of money. And to make money, and as a youngster, I used to study magical art. And on my first day in New York City in Manhattan walking around Times Square I ushered into this side house. On the street with all these shops, there's this little staircase with a door and these three very, very big black men, they kind of ushered me up this staircase. And as I went up there, there's three-card monte going on.
Stay Tuned For Part 2 next wk!
Luke Michael Howard CHT